Source: SDOT

Last election cycle, virtually every city council candidate knew enough about Seattle transit to say they supported “better east-west connections.” You don’t have to ride the bus very much to know that getting across town can be a slog. Promising to fix it turns out to be a popular idea.

At a series of open houses last week, SDOT, in partnership with King County Metro, previewed Level 1 concepts for one of the most important of the east-west routes in the city: the 44. The route, which runs from Ballard to the University District, had been initially proposed as RapidRide but then de-scoped to “multimodal improvements” when the Move Seattle Levy was reset.

While the RapidRide amenities and branding are nice to have, the most important things are the speed and mobility improvements. With these initial concepts – which are drafts for discussion purposes – SDOT is trying to get creative in making east-west transit faster.

An SDOT-commissioned study examined at the route in exquisite detail. Using automatic vehicle location (AVL) and automatic passenger count (APC) data, they were able to pinpoint precisely where the slowdowns were happening and how many people would be affected by them. They also split the analysis into AM, midday, and PM segments (fun fact: the 44 has higher ridership midday than the AM — college kids don’t sign up for early classes!). Finally, they subtracted the time the door was open from the total dwell time to understand how long the buses were stuck at the stop after loading and unloading passengers.

The current end-to-end eastbound journey takes 23 minutes off-peak, but 37-39 minutes during peak. Westbound is a similar 25 minutes and 42 minutes, respectively. Delays occur mostly where the route intersects major N-S thoroughfares: at 15th NW, at SR-99, and at I-5. Most of the U-District portion is also congested.

The early concepts propose streamlining the right-of-way to inhibit north-south traffic conflicts. For example, left turns might be restricted or streets turned one-way to prevent movement on to or off of the corridor, similar to Denny Way (which carries a similar amount of car traffic). Bus-only lanes could be added Eastbound approaching 15th Ave NW, Aurora, and 15th Ave NE.

SDOT also suggests possibly removing the bus stops at I-5. When buses are restructured after Lynnwood link opens (right about when these improvements will launch), it’s not clear how important the transfer at I-5 and 45th will be, so this could work out.

Finally off-board payment is a possibility, even sans RapidRide branding.

One hopes SDOT swings for the fences with this project. Crosstown routes are always slow, which is one reason the Transit Master Plan called for aggressive bus priority. Unlike some projects, the primary obstacles to success are political, not financial. This is an excellent, low-cost opportunity for the Mayor and her team to show the transit leadership that they are so eager to take credit for. Everyone says they want better east-west connections when it’s campaign time. Here’s a chance to make it happen.

SDOT expects construction to wrap up in mid-2023. All the gory details are available at the project website including a full list of improvements and display boards from the open house showing the draft concepts.

Update: clarified Metro’s partnership

98 Replies to “SDOT and Metro have some big ideas for Route 44”

  1. 15th Ave. and Montlake represent significant delays. Is it still necessary to send this to the Medical Center and Husky Stadium if it also goes to the U District Link station? To me, this feels like an easy truncation.

    1. I would imagine UW hospital employees and disabled patients would fight that. It would save the bus time though it would cost riders to UW hospital ten minutes likely.

      1. Having to transfer to get to Children’s will have a similar impact, for people working or going there. Having to transfer will also impact riders trying to get to the north side of campus, and U-Village.

        There will still be a river of frequency from U-District Station to UW Med. 10 minutes is possible, I suppose, if it takes that long to get between bus stops. Design the stops for easy transfer, and you won’t have to have every bus that serves U-District also serve UW Med.

        At least one frequent bus from UW needs to serve north campus, U-Village, and Children’s, via the NE 45th St viaduct.

        If Metro has data showing the ridership to UW Med and southeast campus vs. that to the north campus + U Village + Children’s, I hope they publish it so we can see they chose the right route to serve the NE 45th corridor.

    2. I’m not a fan of truncating routes at U-District Station. Any truncation is a missed opportunity for a through-route, such as a route 44 heading straight along NE 45th St to north campus, U-Village, and Children’s Hospital, for example.

      Likewise, any north-south route from Roosevelt Station (excluding the Eastlake RapidRide) would be ideal for continuing south into the lower campus, or into the inner campus loop.

      There are only so many routes that will be approaching U-District Station from N 45th St once the station is open. Indeed, I think route 44 will be it. All I am saying is give straight lines a chance. It worked well for the A Line.

      1. All I am saying is give straight lines a chance.

        I agree. The Move Seattle plans for the 44 had the bus going straight to the U-Village, and ending there ( My guess is that Metro doesn’t want to make such a radical change to such a popular bus. It could backfire, as you could have westbound delays on the 45th street viaduct, which would mean that the bulk of your riders (UW to Ballard) would be delayed. I think there approach for such a critical route is to go with the devil they know. Based on the report, there are quite a few riders that get off at the tail end (after the bus turns on 15th) so this is a reasonable approach.

        My guess is they will pick either the 65 or 75 and send it across 45th and layover where the 49 lays over. This is a sort of “dipping the toe in the water” approach, where they can better figure out the traffic patterns and usage. If it turns out that very few riders on the 44 continue past Brooklyn, and the bus that goes across 45th has decent reliability and decent ridership, they could then straighten out the 44.

      2. As RossB implies, changing the 44’s eastern tail should involve a holistic look at the bus network in and around the UW/U-District. There will a few significant transit changes in the area in the first half of the 2020s:

        2021: Northgate Link opens
        2023: East Link opens and the Route 44 improvements are completed
        2024(ish): Roosevelt Rapidride opens

        Maybe it would have been nice if the Route 44 and Roosevelt Rapid ride improvements were going to be finished in 2021 so that Metro could a have a single, “final” restructure around the UW/U-District, but the Northgate Link bus restructure should Metro the chance to experiment, collect data, and refine the bus network a few years later.

      3. I general, I tend to favor the straighter route – having to take a grand tour of campus to get from northeast Seattle to almost anywhere else is not good. On the other hand, the concerns are real too. Plus the fact that any revision to the #44 require installing more trolley wire, which costs millions of dollars.

      4. I was going to say that. Rerouting the 44 would require dieselizing it. That would be a big loss to the trolley network, which is already in danger of contracting with the Link restructures. You could use hybrid buses but they wouldn’t be as quiet or smooth. Or battery buses, but they’d also cost a lot of money, and wouldn’t have the overhead wire making them look kind of like a streetcar line (which I like, and which tells you where it’s going). It’s the RapidRide project that was going to fund trolley wire or batter buses, and that’s exactly what was downgraded. We need a more low-cost approach. And if it means dieselizing the 44, well, maybe going to Children’s can wait.

      5. There is no way they would switch to diesel buses. It would probably require running new wire, but it is also possible that it could run as an electric bus between 15th and the layover (at Children’s Hospital). You would have to add some sort of charging station there, but that might be cheaper than running wire the whole way.

        This is probably the biggest reason they didn’t consider it. When improving the 44 was part of Move Seattle, they had a decent budget to work with. These changes are coming on the cheap.

    3. Yes. When the 30 became the 43 ridership almost doubled. It’s far more than just the Med Center that is served by the turn down 15th. There are plenty of new instructional buildings west of the Med Center, plus Red Square and the Library are much better served. Easily half the ridership of the 44 is transferees. Don’t turn theyre trips into three-seat rides.

      Chilfren’s is a day-care center compared to UWMC.

      1. It’s not just about Children’s. It’s also about the U-Village and homes around it. The distances to Red Square and other buildings from 45th is short enough that it would be a walk, not a wait for another bus (unless you happen to see one coming).

      2. How many people are goinf to take the bus ti UVillage? Sone, to be sure, but not many.

        So far as those who live between UVilkage and Children’s. — a goid population to be sure — how many want to go to Ballard ir Wallingford?

        Yes, reroute the 75 to UDistrict Station and maybe farther west ad ab overlay, but don’t take the two-seat ride between inner Northwest Seattle and UWMC to a three-seater.

      3. What a catastrophe of bad phone typing. Here is the corrected version:

        How many people are going to take the bus to UVillage? Some, to be sure, but not many.

        So far as those who live between UVillage and Children’s. — a good population to be sure — how many want to go to Ballard or Wallingford?

        Yes, reroute the 75 to UDistrict Station and maybe farther west as an overlay, but don’t take the two-seat ride between inner Northwest Seattle and UWMC to a three-seater.

      4. The 75 will go to U-District Station one way or another. It’s unclear whether it’ll go via Stevens Way or 45th. The third option Metro was considering at one point, via north Stevens Way and a new road out 43rd, is now precluded by another building and the Burke Museum expansion.

      5. You may be talking about a time before the 43, but there were several years when the 30 and 43 overlapped. People took the 43 because it was more frequent, 15 minutes vs the 30’s 30 minutes, so it usually showed up first. And it went to Ballard, which is more populous than Fremont or Magnolia.

        The great move was when the 40th Street route was created. (First called 74, then 30, then 31/32.) Those quickly became as busy as the 44, and now I think they might be even be busier. It was such a relief for Fremontites to not have to walk up the steep hill to 45th. And it’s amazing going westbound on the 75/31/32; it’s a lightly-populated or moderately-populated bus, then on three stops at 25th, Pend Orielle Rd, and Benton Lane it becomes standing room only going into Fremont. And at Campus Parkway, more people get on than get off.

      6. There are really three possibilities for the 45th street viaduct:

        1) Don’t cover it all (keep the same basic alignment). This is crap, in my opinion. It is the same thinking that drove Metro for years, and it is epitomized with Tom’s questions (“how many want to go from U-Village and Children’s to Ballard or Wallingford?”). It made sense when the agency ran buses every half hour — you have to choose the most popular trips. You ignore mid-level connections, or worse yet, consider it covered, but in a roundabout way. Forcing riders to go well out of there way to make a simple connection means they won’t. They will call a cab or drive. Keep in mind, it isn’t just folks from U-Village or Children’s hospital, it is everyone “upstream” on other buses, like Lake City and Sand Point. To take the next step in ridership, we shouldn’t worry about serving extremely low density areas like Lake Washington Boulevard with scab labor, we should focus on connecting the high density areas with each other. Anywhere to anywhere trips are what define a good urban transit system. You can see that clearly on this report. This bus is *not* just people going to the UW. It is everywhere to everywhere trips which enable this bus to get good ridership *despite* being ridiculously slow. Connecting the U-Village/Children’s Hospital area with the U-District would have plenty of riders.

        2) Serve it with the 65 or 75. I’ll assume the 75 is used. If you did that, then there would still be two buses (the 65 and 372) connecting the U-Village area with lower campus (and UWMC). From Children’s Hospital, you would have only the one bus going there (with the infrequent 74 and 78) covering some of it. That would seem to provide an adequate, but not especially great level of service for that area. On the plus side, it would likely be revenue neutral, or result in some savings.

        3) Serve it by extending the 44. The 44 is a lot more frequent than the 75, so the connection along there would be a lot better. You retain the same level of service to lower campus from U-Village, Children’s etc. Like the last option, it looks to be about revenue neutral, if not result in some savings. It takes a long time to get to the other side of campus from 45th. This would result is very high frequency for the U-Village/Children’s Hospital area to both the U-District and lower campus.

        The drawback is that people (from Ballard, etc.) would have to transfer to get to Campus Parkway, etc. I think it is highly likely, though, that there will be more than enough buses going south from 45th. You have buses that started from the north (currently buses like the 45, 67, 73) and buses that come from the south (48, 271). You also have buses that will at least get you down to Campus Parkway (like the 49 and 70) and that assumes that we don’t send the 31/32 up to 45th or beyond (I would).

        I think that is why you can’t look at this in isolation. The buses going between 45th and the Husky Stadium area start out on different streets (Roosevelt, The Ave, and 15th). There are a lots of options, and depending on how those buses get re-routed, you could have Third Avenue type frequency (“expect a bus within seconds”) or something far worse (having to wait five minutes for a trip that used to be one seat). If we get the former (which has advantages beyond transfers) then I would send the 44 to Children’s Hospital. If we don’t, then it would make sense to send the 44 on its current path, as it would also add frequency along a popular corridor.

      7. Mike, yes. The 30 became the 43 when the big trolley expansion in the mid-70’s occurred. There was no wire north of the Ship Canal at the time. The 4 Montlake was through routed with what used to be the 30. I guess that’s where the “3” came from. For a while they had a 30 from the U-District to the Laurelhurst loop. It was a bust.

      8. Ross, I didn’t say that connecting Children’s U-Village and even Sand Point to the U District was a bad idea.

        Be kind to that poor straw man; of course it’s a good idea. I just asked the question, “Are more people from north central and northwest Seattle not directly on 45th/Market going to UWMC or to Children’s/U Village.” And I think it’s a slam dunk that more are going to UWMC. So that’s where the base transfer service should go. Otherwise you turn the majority trip into a three-seat ride unnecessarily.

        Right now there’s no direct service across 45th between 15th and the Montlake intersection. Doesn’t that tell you something? E.g. that Metro doesn’t think it’s worth much.

      9. Right now there’s no direct service across 45th between 15th and the Montlake intersection. Doesn’t that tell you something? E.g. that Metro doesn’t think it’s worth much.

        OK, using that argument, it means that Metro doesn’t think connecting First Hill direction with South Lake Union has any merit. That is absurd.

        You are ignoring the history of Metro and their goals. Until recently, ridership and frequency was very low. There simply wasn’t enough of either to worry about secondary trips. Their goals were split between picking high ridership trips (e. g. UW to downtown) and coverage (all day 19). Focusing on making trips faster by avoiding detours was never a concern (and it is easy to see the vestiges of that thinking in our network now).

        They made a hub and spoke system. This meant (and still means) that there are lots of trips that involve very time consuming, out of the way transfers. This sort of approach made sense twenty years, at the density and funding levels of the time (just as it makes sense in the suburbs) but it doesn’t make sense now. We have very frequent service on relatively minor areas, like northeast Seattle. The frequency of the various bus routes make it much easier to make transfers, and thus a grid. A grid leads to a more efficient system, which in turn leads to even better frequency. This everywhere-to-everywhere system has higher ridership, which again justifies higher frequency. Everyone wins.

        OK, not everyone. As you mentioned, some people would have a three seat ride, since our physical geography prevents a good grid. But as made clear in this document, the 44 is very slow. It isn’t like a subway. Someone who is in Crown Hill or Greenwood won’t bother with the D and the 44 to get to UWMC, no matter how often they run. They will take the 45, which goes right there. Likewise, if you are farther north, you will gravitate towards Northgate, where you really can take a subway to UWMC. So that basically leaves the areas in between 85th and Market/45th.

        These should not be dismissed, but other riders shouldn’t be dismissed either. Everyone from northwest and north central Seattle headed to the U-District/U-Village corridor has to make a huge detour, around the campus. You have to be east of 372 to avoid that very time consuming trip. If there was nothing but a hospital and a mall there, that would be one thing. But there are lots of apartments — way more than Sand Point — and those riders have no straightforward way to get to the U-District, or any of those other areas.

        As I wrote, there are trade-offs. That approach would result in very good service for the U-Village/Children’s area at very little cost. But it would mean a three seat ride for lots of people. The alternative (option 2) might be the better approach. But to dismiss a fast corridor with obvious ridership and time savings for those riders is to accept a second rate system.

        Finally, it is worth noting that three seat rides will be extremely common in the future. Better get used to it. For example, a trip from Lake City to Belltown will involve three seats. This is a trip from one of the more densely populated areas in the state to one of the biggest employment centers. It isn’t the end of the world. What you want to avoid, more than anything, is having to go way out of your way just to go a mile or so down the road, whether it is like this ( or like this (

      10. “Right now there’s no direct service across 45th between 15th and the Montlake intersection. Doesn’t that tell you something? E.g. that Metro doesn’t think it’s worth much.”

        It means Metro removed it because of congestion on the viaduct that was killing reliability. The same problem that Montlake Blvd congestion is now creating for the 67, 75, and 372. The routes that used to run on 45th have been moved various ways over time. Now Metro is making noises about possibly moving some routes back to 45th, as it did during construction last summer. The Montlake congestion has gotten so bad that maybe 45th pales in comparison.

      11. “The 4 Montlake was through routed with what used to be the 30.”

        How did the old 30 run then? In the 80s the 43 was like the 43+44, and the 30 started from Laurelhurst and went west on 45th to Fremont Ave and south to Fremont. And then maybe to Magnolia? You can’t interline the 4 and 30 without chopping off one end of the 30 (Laurelhurst), and the other end would make it into a U-shaped route (Magnolia). Unless the pre-43 30 was different from the post-43 30.

        And how did numbers 3 and 4 get reassigned to Queen Anne and Jefferson Street?

      12. Do you have know where the congestion is, on 45th? My understanding is that it was westbound, towards the freeway. This makes sense, as I could see lot of people from the northeast, trying to drive to the 45th ramp.

        As I wrote down below, I would fix that with a westbound bus lane, from roughly Montlake Boulevard to Roosevelt. I see no reason why you need two lanes going that direction, since they will eventually clog up anyway.

        Of course that could result in backups approaching there. If that is the case, I would extend the bus lane as far as needed to ensure smooth bus travel. My guess is NE 45th Place would be sufficient, since it is where 35th Avenue NE comes in. If not, then keep going east, all the way to Sand Point if you need to. The road is overbuilt there, really. It is a bad idea to have two lanes (and a turn lane) heading into town. It is a zero-sum game — those cars just make it worse for the other cars, let alone the buses. Having fewer lanes headed into town (whether “town” is the UW or downtown) is a good idea for traffic in general. It is like metered access ramps to the freeway. It delays those riders, but traffic flows better overall. It is one lane between Sand Point and Lake City, it can be one (general purpose) lane between Sand Point and the U-District, with the other lane being for buses.

        Actually, for much of the way, it would still be two. It is three lanes from about NE 45th Place ( to where Montlake Boulevard splits off ( Again, that is crazy overkill. If you have a bus lane from Sand Point (where it expands to two southbound lanes — to the U-District, it would mean one general purpose lane until 45th Place, where it would expand into two.

        You would need to do some work around the NE 45th Street/Montlake Boulevard interchange. Right now you have to be in the right lane to continue on 45th. You would instead have the right lane be a BAT lane, reserved for buses and those turning into the mall. The center lane would be for those going straight (onto the 45th viaduct) or turning southbound on to Montlake Boulevard. That would mean that a bus like the 372 would need to move over one lane, but that would be easy.

      13. Mike, when the 43 was created, my recollection is that the Laurelhurst loop had direct downtown service at the peaks and the rest of the time was a short-turn shuttle back and forth to the U-District. I guess that’s what grew into the 30 that you described. I was gone from 1984 to 1995.

        The original 30 ran from Golden Gardens (a few times a day) or the 32nd loop (the rest of the time) to the Laurelhurst loop. When the main stem between 32nd NW and 15th NE was electrified as the 43, Golden Gardens could no longer be served. For a while there were various attempts to serve Golden Gardens with overlays of different lengths and destinations, including the original use of the “50” designation as an express on 50th Street. But they all failed.

        Ross, certainly folks from anywhere north of about 77th will walk north to the 45, maybe even 75th. But there are a lot of riders between 55th and 75th along Phinney / Greenwood and in West Greenlake who must ride and transfer. Obviously, I don’t know how many of them work or study along the Montlake Cutm but human nature says that many might consider that neighborhood because of its long-term bus service. Folks working at Children’s would likely live along Sand Point, 35th NE or 125th if they can.

  2. Overall, the design concepts looks good. I primarily ride the 44 on weekends, but even then, the bottlenecks at 15th Ave. NW, SR-99, and I-5 can still create significant delays. On light traffic days, where these bottlenecks aren’t a problem, the bus is consistently 5+ minutes early, which goes to show just how traffic-padded the schedule is.

    I can only hope that SDOT has the leadership to actually follow through on these proposals, rather than allow them to be, one by one, watered down or scrapped when drivers complain.

  3. I’m fine with the 22nd concept in Ballard as long as it’s 100% contingent on completing the Missing Link (eta 2060?). Until then Ballard Ave is the primary bike route for Ballardites and 22nd is a critical access point for cyclists West of the Dock/17th Greenway. Removing the ability to go North-South on 22nd to connect to Ballard Ave would be dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians (as cyclists will likely divert to the sidewalks which are already way too narrow).

    Since our newly elected council member wants to move the Missing Link to Leary and engage in a 50 year legal battle with Carter, maybe the 2060 time frame will make sense for these improvements.

    1. I don’t understand the reasoning behind that proposed change. You basically prevent traffic from through-routing on 22nd. So what? You still have people turning right and left from Market to 22nd. You still have pedestrians crossing the street. It is highly likely that a change like that wouldn’t change the traffic light cycle in the least. It takes a lot longer for the masses of people to cross Market on 22nd than it does for the handful of cars. This seems like a silly change made by someone who doesn’t actually understand the situation there. Someone want to explain the reasoning there?

      1. I’m all for anything that prevents cars from cutting through on residential streets, whether it makes a difference in making the buses run faster or not. It means a calmer, less stressful experience for people walking and biking on that street. This is one of the general principles of the neighborhood greenway movement.

        Of course, for this to work, bikes and pedestrians have to still be able to use 22nd as a thru-street in both directions, even if cars cannot.

      2. Yeah, but that isn’t the point of the proposal. This isn’t about traffic calming, but making the bus move faster. I honestly don’t understand why this would make the buses go faster. In some place with low pedestrians usage (say, Northgate Way and 15th NE) this type of change would make sense. But here, this won’t change the number of turning cars, nor will it change the light cycle (unless I’m missing something).

        It seems to me like they have this backwards. If it was one-way towards Market, then you eliminate turns from Market onto 22nd (either direction). The buses can hug the right side, knowing that it won’t get stuck behind a car trying to turn right. Cars on 22nd would be forced to turn, but so be it. That would be like Fremont Avenue, as it crosses 85th (, although in that case the street is two-way.

        Even better, close it off, to everyone but bikes. Each street would be a dead end, used only for parking and deliveries. Each street is wide enough for a car or truck to turn around, as long as you eliminate a parking spot or two. You might even end up with more parking, since much of each street could have angle parking.

      3. Now that angle parking “angle” is a very good idea! You get a bikeway and calm pedestrian area and end up with more total parking.

  4. I should send a message to my City Council members. This is just the kind of thing that 6th Ave in Tacoma needs.

  5. From very old memory of driving the Route 44 through Wallingford, at every zone would’ve been good to have a transit-priority traffic signal keyed to my left turn signal so the cars would have to stop and let me out when all my passengers were aboard. Opinion from current driver?


    1. I’m on the board at Atlantic so I don’t drive the 44 everyday but most of the stops in Wallingford aren’t an issue. I don’t know if they’ve added the barriers in the center lane since your time but most of the stops the coach blocks the only traffic lane and a cement barrier is in the center lane preventing passing. There are a couple of exceptions like at Stoneway in both directions.

  6. SDOT also suggests possibly removing the bus stops at I-5. When buses are restructured after Lynnwood link opens … it’s not clear how important the transfer at I-5 and 45th will be

    I used to commute from the south end to Wallingford; these stop pairs worked great for that, and were definitely faster than routes 26 or (back then) 30.

  7. It looks like the neighborhood with the lowest dwell times and delays is the much maligned single family home area in east Ballard.

    1. Of course, the lowest dwell times are going to be in places where people don’t ride the bus. In Houston, buses blow by stop after stop, without stopping.

      But, if you want a high ridership system, you have to find a way to keep dwell times down, while still having passengers get on and off. Having both high passenger volume and low dwell times simultaneously is not an easy problem.

  8. “Finally off-board payment is a possibility, even sans RapidRide branding.” the current RR practice is off-board. but the objective is all-door boarding and alighting. that can also be achieved with on-board fare transponders. that is the method in TransLink with Route 99B and in SF Muni, systemwide.

    Brent and NE 45th Street viaduct: why? There are no potential riders there; it is steep; it is subject to congestion westbound. the trolley bus overhead will not magically appear for the extension. Intending riders at 20th Avenue NE are close to service in the U District or Route 74. Children’s is pretty well served by routes 65 and 75; it would be better if they had the same northbound pathway via NE Pacific Place to reduce waiting by those bound for common markets; it would be better yet if Montlake Boulevard NE had a southbound BAT lane between NE 45th Street and NE Pacific Place; could the left turn lane and landscaping in the middle of Montlake Boulevard NE be converted to a regular lane?

    1. My hope is that this will happen when UW finally develops the stadium parking lot. It will probably mean rebuilding the bridge to the basketball stadium, right?

    2. It’s a tradeoff: there are a lot of people going to the university, but the current routing makes a trip from Wallingford to Unversity Village ridiculously long. You go south from 45th to Campus Parkway, which takes 2 minutes. You transfer to the 65 or 75, which takes up to 15 minutes. You go through campus, which takes 10 minutes. All to go just 10 blocks further east on the grid. And it makes the network more complicated to understand.

    3. Brent and NE 45th Street viaduct: why?

      Because it makes a grid.

      There are no riders on the viaduct, but there are plenty after it (in the U-Village and Children’s Hospital area). Riders in that area can round the horn, but good god, that is a very long, tedious trip. It is quite possible that it would actually shorten the running time of the 44, which in turn would mean that you run that bus more often on the key (and unique) corridor (U-District to Ballard). It is also quite likely that there will be more than enough buses running on 15th as well as The Ave. That means that someone who is headed to Campus Parkway, or even the UW hospital can easily get off the bus, and have Third Avenue type frequency (along with the choo-choo).

      I’m not saying it is the best approach. Maybe there are traffic issues that make it untenable. But it certainly should be explored, as it would be ideal, if it works out. You avoid the big turn (which takes a lot of time in an urban environment) and you have better connections. Trust the grid.

      1. There’s also a stop at 17th, and people from 17th to 22nd at the top of the hill would use it, as well as those going to the north half of campus. If we assume 17th is close enough to 20th and 22nd at the top of the hill, the remaining nonstop portion of the viaduct is 20th to 25th, which is only five blocks. But it makes the trip between Wallingford and U Village significantly faster.

        It’s a tradeoff, because there are a lot of people in Wallingford and Ballard going to the south half of campus, the U-District, west campus, the hospital, and the stadium.

        I’ve long wondered if the 62 should have gone to Ballard instead of downtown. Likewise, the 31 or 32 could be rerouted to Ballard. That could provide a way to keep the 44 going down 15th while also improving access between Ballard and U Village. But then you’d lose service in Magnolia.

    4. What if there was a new bus route that made a circle around the streets that bound UW Campus? Montlake, Pacific, 45th, and 15th? If UW contributed funds to this, could it work?

      Maybe someone knows the answer to this, but why doesn’t UW already offer this type of campus shuttle?

      1. In general, shuttles don’t perform well. With the UW being a major destination and a major transfer point well inside a major city, there are bound to be lots of buses going there. Having those buses provide that type of functionality is a better value — you kill two birds with one stone. It is like 3rd Avenue downtown (or the transit tunnel for that matter). Lots of trips are taken *within* downtown, even though it isn’t designed exclusively to do that.

        The only thing that comes close to being a shuttle is the 78. It performs poorly, despite poaching the best parts of the 65/75. That’s because it isn’t worth waiting for, unless you are headed to Laurelhurst. Likewise, most of a UW shuttle’s corridors already have a lot of service, and should have more as Link expands northward. The one exception is 45th, but as mentioned up above, lots of people want service there, whether it means diverting the 65, 75, or 44.

  9. When I saw “Metro Has Big Ideas..”, I thought I’d see the 44 stay on 45th St to/from Children’s Hospital. Kinda sorta disappointed..

    1. You want to turn a significant portion of 44 trips into three seat rides. At least half of 44 riders transfer to or from it.

      UWMC is roughly four times as large as Children’s. So if you recreate the classic 30, you’ll trade one new rider to Children’s for four riders to UWMC and Red Square.

      There is room for both in this corridor for an overlay limited stop route from Children’s to somewhere in Ballard.

      1. That’s what I meant by “a large number of new instructional buildings west of the hospital”. I’m not as stupid as Ross thinks.

      2. Don’t be so sure ;)

        Anyhow, I knew what you meant. These are all shorthand phrases. UWMC means lower campus, the medical buildings, the stadium — all of that. There are clinics and other offices all over the place, including inside the stadium. UWMC is just a shorthand for all of it. Likewise, I use “U-Village/Children’s” to mean that whole area, not just the mall and the hospital. There are plenty of apartments around there, as well as retail outside the mall.

        By no means do I think that more people are headed there than the UWMC area. It is more about the network. Some people have a slightly worse trip (a very fast transfer) while others get a huge improvement (avoiding a huge detour).

        It is worth noting that it is tough to make a solid conclusion based on the stop data. I wish they listed real numbers, instead of the bubbles. But it is clear that while lots of people are getting on and off close to UWMC, many of those riders are getting on and off at 45th, close to the Ave. This means that a lot of people are using the 44 as a shuttle between upper and lower campus. This is great, but it also means that other buses (the 48, etc.) provide the same service (my guess is you would see similar numbers for those buses). If frequency of those buses improved, and/or another bus was sent that way, then sending the 44 that way wouldn’t effect those riders.

        You would need more detailed information (which may not be available) to determine whether there really are a lot of people getting on in Ballard and getting off by the UWMC. You would need even more data to figure out whether they started their trip on another bus.

      3. The ones going to work/school along Pacific Street and 15th are commuters, and this gives them extra weight in government/Metro assumptions, because those trips ware what enable them to make a living and they make the economy go round and generate tax revenue. Whereas random shopping trips to U-Village or visiting patients at Children’s or going to a park don’t. Of course, some people do work at U-Village or Children’s, but many times more are at UW.

        This issue also came up during the U-Link restructure, where some wanted the 75 and 372 to go south to UW Station, and Metro refused saying many more people are going to the UW campus or the U-District, and it’s their all-important education trips.

      4. The goal to keep Route 44 on 45th is to improve the network for more people overall, even though some riders would loose direct service between to UWMC. Ultimately, the improvement of having a true east-west line outweighs the relatively small transfer penalty for current UWMC bound 44 riders.

        There will be great alternatives for current UWMC riders if if the 44 is a true east-west line. You could transfer at 45th to a train, or myriad buses coming every 1 to 3 minutes at peak. The connecting service will be better than today in severe congestion with the resiliency of the train as an option so overall ridership to UWMC will grow substantially.

        Compare that potential reality with the current transfer options to U Village/Seattle Children’s. The lack of a straight line connection along 45th (or any other street in North Seattle) and the painfully slow routing through campus is a huge time suck and constraint on ridership. From most of NW Seattle, you are looking a three seat ride with a painful detour through campus to get across town to U Village/Seattle Children’s.

        All that being said, I can see why the limited resources available for this project are going to spot improvements instead of partially paying for new trolley wire. Hopefully, Metro can improve east-west service in other ways in the next restructure and eventually someone can find capital funding for true-east west service on NE 45th St.

  10. Best way to get East/west is on an Uber or Lyft vehicle. No stops/express – private vehicle. It’s a reason why the car is number one in America. Nothing will pry me from my personal vehicle!

    1. Nothing will pry me from my precious 02′ Honda Civic too. However, if I’m near a major transit corridor and I have the opportunity to use it to reach my job (and save my gas and stress), I’ll take it.

    2. Can someone pry your hands from yoyr keyboard before you make any more pointless troll comments?

  11. There is heavy ridership to/from the Med Center for route 44. It’s a large mix of UW staff, UW Med Ctr staff, patients and Link transferees. The bus can easily fill more than halfway just at its first stop.

    However, I am in favor of having a peak-hour version of the 44 that stays on 45th to serve U-Village and Children’s. Maybe even an express route, like the 9x is to the 7?

    1. As it stands, there will be two all-day routes serving the NE 45th corridor: routes 65 and 75. There are three campus corridors to serve: NE 45th straight shot to U-District Station, the inner campus loop, and the Montlake/Pacific V.

      I foresee Metro wanting to keep one route on the inner campus loop, and then opt to provide the Link connection at UW Station (which might be justified time-wise assuming a lot more riders want to head south there rather than north).

      East-west connectivity would be a big loser under that scenario. East-to-further north would be a smaller loser.

      All three corridors seem like they ought to be all day.

      1. Keep the 372 on the inner campus loop. Right now it is the only direct connection between Seattle and Bothell Campuses. By keeping in on inner campus, the bus can continue to serve both campuses.

  12. The report has only one change in routing, detailed on page 4. Eastbound buses retain the same routing. Westbound buses on 15th turn left early, at 43rd. The bus would then turn right at 12th, then left at 45th. So that means three turns (two left, one right) instead of one (left) turn.

    I think that is a mistake. While it would mean that riders would be closer to Link, it would likely result in a significant loss of speed. Riders could get out of the station and on to the bus sooner, but would probably get to Ballard later. Riders from the UW headed to Ballard would certainly be delayed, and running the bus would take longer. Turns take time. Turns in an urban environment (where the bus needs to wait for pedestrians) take a lot of time. Adding another turn lane on 15th would be costly (likely requiring shrinking the sidewalk) and the bus would compete with cars turning left. Turning right on 43rd to 12th would be time consuming, and you would need to add a new turn pocket (and left turn light) on 12th, which in turn would mess up traffic on 45th (making it worse for buses headed the other way).

    1. Interesting. Well, people from lower campus don’t have to take the 44 to U-District Station; the 45, 48, 67, and others will also go there. It’s also odd that eastbound doesn’t swing down to 43rd. Apparently the south side of 45th is considered close enough to the station. But what about people getting out of the station and going west? If the 44 doesn’t make that deviation, they’d have to cross 45th Street. That’s wide and has a lot of cars, and I’ve had countless times where I’ve waited at the northwest corner of 45th & University Way for a red light while the eastbound bus I wanted came, loaded, and departed before the light turned green. People going from Link to the 44 westbound would have the same problem in reverse.

      1. Thank you, Mike. Make 43rd Bus Only between 15th and Brooklyn and you get a FASTER, more reliable left turn from 15th,

      2. Thank you, Mike. Make 43rd Bus Only between 15th and Brooklyn and you get a FASTER, more reliable left turn from 15th

        I doubt it. You are still trading three turns for one. The right turn from 43rd to 12th will take a while. There are a ton of pedestrians, so even though it is a right turn, it won’t be easy. The left turn from 12th to 45th isn’t a picnic either.

        I doubt there will be many times when it is faster. When there aren’t that many cars, there aren’t that many pedestrians and vice-versa. That means late at night, when traffic is light, making two left turns will be slower than making one. In the daytime, when it is hard to turn left at 15th onto 45th, there will be lots of pedestrians, making the three turns a lot slower. If that part of 43rd is bus-only, you will still allow bikes, and you will likely have plenty of jaywalkers, both of which would delay a bus. I think it is a mistake.

        But of course, one nice thing about a bus route — it isn’t that hard to change it later. I just hope they don’t spend a lot of money making this possible. You have to add a left turn light from 15th to 43rd and maybe another on 12th. I hope they don’t try to add a pocket, since that is more expensive, and would mean shrinking the sidewalk. There isn’t much harm in trying this out, but I think they will find that it is a bad idea.

      3. You missed my caveat: do this if 43rd is made bus-only. Then there will never be any cars in front the bus when it turns. There’s a pocket at 45th but the sidewalk doesn’t appear to narrow between 43rd and 45th. I think the lanes are just narrower.

      4. You missed my caveat: do this if 43rd is made bus-only. Then there will never be any cars in front the bus when it turns. There’s a pocket at 45th but the sidewalk doesn’t appear to narrow between 43rd and 45th. I think the lanes are just narrower.

        I didn’t miss that. A bus will still have to take a right, in heavy pedestrian traffic, to get to 12th. Then it would make a left on 12th that would be very similar to the turn from 15th to 45th. There might be cars in front of the bus on 45th, just as there might be cars in front of it further east. The first turn (to 43rd) will no doubt be easier, but not enough to make for the two additional turns the bus has to make.

        It is clear that if you headed westbound, and transfer from Link, this will be slower. Once you get on the bus, it will spend a significant amount of time taking a right and a left. You avoid having to cross the street, but you spend more time sitting on the bus. The odds of you missing the bus are the same, but now when you catch the bus, it will get you to your destination later.

      5. Worth considering are the folks who have no interest in Link. Let’s say you live in Ballard, but work in the U-District, in this new office building going up here: Your commute into work is quite nice, with only a three minute walk to work from the bus stop ( You have to cross the street, but you figure you won’t have to cross the street in the evening.

        Except that you will. Instead of this (, you have this ( It isn’t the end of the world, but it is an extra two minutes of walking, for everyone who lives or works north of 45th. Not only is it extra walking, but you spend more time on the bus. It isn’t a huge loss of time (probably 3 or 4 minutes altogether) but it is still a degradation.

        You would think that we would make up for it by riders to the south. But that is not the case. If you are on 42nd and Brooklyn, walking over to 15th is just as close. If you are at 43rd and 11th, then it is just as easy to walk up to 45th. You have to really close to the bus stop to benefit, and yet everyone north of 45th and west of Brooklyn (which is a lot of people now, and soon to be a huge amount of people) than you are worse off.

        It strikes me, more than anything, like an attempt to deal with a problem in a piecemeal, half ass way. We need bus lanes on 45th. Add them between 15th and Roosevelt. I would ban right turns from westbound 45th to 11th. That means that if a driver wants to access the northern parts of The Ave, Brooklyn or 12th, they have to turn on 15th. That means that between 15th and 12th, the BAT lane is essentially a bus lane. Other than folks accessing alleyways, no cars allowed.

        When we extend service on the viaduct, then those bus lanes should extend to Montlake Boulevard. That means that drivers taking a left from northbound Montlake Boulevard to westbound 45th ( would not have their own lane. They would have to merge with the folks heading west on 45th. That is where the bus lane would start, which means that those continuing west on 45th would have to do a little jog (easily accomplished with paint). This would mean a BAT lane westbound on 45th from Montlake Boulevard to the Roosevelt (at least). There is no reason why you need two lanes each direction on 45th.

      6. But you simply cannot “have bus lanes on 45th”. There is no other arterial linking the U Village/Chilfran’s area to the area west of campus. Not only that, but it is one of the two streets which connect the huge campus to I-5.

        It is very true that the U District /Campus area achieves a very high modal split for transit, but a lot of people still drive. The City won’t take half the capacity of this roadway for buses. It just won’t; Laurelhurst and the mile strip south of 65th would be out with pitchforks and torches.

      7. Just remove the on/off ramps south of 45th. Use 50th for I5 access and 45th for crossing over I5. If 45th could have zero interface with I5, that would be best.

      8. But you simply cannot “have bus lanes on 45th”.

        That is ridiculous. There is only one lane heading east across the viaduct — why do we need two lanes heading west? What bizarre logic — we don’t need bus service along that corridor, but somehow we need two westbound lanes, but only one eastbound? That’s nuts.

        The city needs to grow up and realize that this sort of traffic attitude is not only bad for transit, but bad overall. Using the same logic, we shouldn’t have metered lanes on the freeway. We can’t possibly slow down all of those drivers trying to get on the freeway — that would be terrible! Nonsense. Done right, and you move more people more efficiently *in their cars*. Reduce the number of vehicles heading towards the U-District, and the *cars* in the U-District flow more freely. The buses, meanwhile, go much faster.

        What are we really talking about here, anyway? How many drivers will miss that second lane? When things are crowded, all that does is delay the point at which they encounter other traffic or a metered lane. If there is no traffic, it doesn’t matter. It is quite likely this wouldn’t make any real difference in overall traffic — induced demand is a real phenomenon. Drivers adjust.

        Of course there will be people who hate the bus lanes. The same is true for downtown Seattle. We have about a half-dozen downtown bus lanes now, just on the numbered avenues. Pretty soon the bus will essentially take over Madison. One of the proposals for improving the 44 calls for taking a lane in Market, between 20th and 15th, making it one lane eastbound — and you are worried about Laurelhurst drivers having only one lane over the 45th street viaduct?

        Come on man, it should be obvious to anyone that we need a lot more bus lanes in the U-District. If downtown Seattle can survive with about half the lanes being for transit, then the U-District can survive with a couple bus lanes. I’m only proposing one (westbound). That means that of the east-west streets that go through and connect to the freeway (45th and 50th) you go from 4 westbound lanes to 3. Cars (and trucks) would be just fine with that change.

      9. By the way, the first thing I would do is send the 75 over there. There is a stronger argument for having the 44 go to UWMC than the 75, for the reason Tom mentioned. You might create some two-seat rides (Sand Point to UWMC) but no three seat rides (since the buses that intersect the 75 intersect other buses that go to UWMC). You also avoid the cost of moving wire.

        I would then “straighten out” the 75, and have it replace the Lake City-Pinehurst-Northgate section of the 41. Since this part of the 41 runs every 10 minutes, it is reasonable to bump the whole thing to 10 minutes (or at least 12). At worse that could mean lowering the 65 to 12 minutes (having both of them run 12 minutes seems better and cost neutral). Now you have a frequent bus that runs from Sand Point to the U-District. This gives us justification to take a lane. Run a bus lane from Sand Point to Wallingford. Some of that would involve taking parking, in other parts it would be taking a general purpose lane. Ideally you go all the way past Aurora (to where the street narrows) but that would be expensive, as there are curb bulbs in a few places. No matter. Just go as far as Sunnyside, before you encounter the first bulb. That means that for the cost of some paint, you could have a very long bus lane.

        This wouldn’t be that much different for cars on Wallingford. Instead of two lanes squeezing into one, it would be one lane the whole way. It might actually be better, since no one headed that direction would be able to stop traffic by parallel parking. The bus, of course, would run fairly quickly to that point — unlike today, where it has to slog with the cars before and after the freeway in Wallingford, and is extremely slow in the U-District.

        At that point, you can look at the data. How many people board before the U-District and get off after 45th? If the answer is “not that many” then it would make sense to send the 75 back to UWMC, and send the 44 straight across to Children’s Hospital. If not, you still improve both the 44 and this new 75 substantially.

        The argument for two lanes of general purpose traffic is weak. When traffic is light, one lane is enough. When traffic is heavy, the bus runs frequently, and a bus can carry way more riders than a car. Whether it is Rainier or 45th Avenue, it can be tough, politically, to take a lane. But doing so is worth it, and cars adjust. In this case, cars would simply shift to 50th, a street that doesn’t have buses (unless you count the 74, which only travels on a part of it and does so infrequently). The 44 route is a major corridor — one worthy of a subway — the least we can do is speed it up by adding cheap bus lanes.

      10. “There is only one lane heading east across the viaduct — why do we need two lanes heading west?”

        Because it’s up a steep hill on a viaduct with no shoulder or turnoffs. If one car or truck can’t make it up the hill quickly, everyone will be stuck behind it if there’s no other lane. The west side of Phinney Ridge also has two up lanes and one down lane for the same reason.

      11. That is interesting from an historical standpoint, Mike, but my point is that you don’t need it, just like you don’t need two lanes south of Sand Point. You can get by with one lane, just as many other places have. A few blocks from my house is 130th Avenue Northeast. It used to be two lanes, each way. Now it is one lane each way. We adjusted. There are times when a truck going up (a much steeper hill) slows things down. We manage.

        The point is that there are some roads that make sense as two lane (one direction). If we reduced Mercer to one lane, for example, it would lead to a giant mess. But there are other instances where the roads were overbuilt, and still other places where transit is far more important now. The obvious example of that is downtown. We have taken lane after lane, and people still manage to get around in their cars. We should take the same approach in the U-District.

        There are several considerations. One is the effect on overall traffic. If you made eastbound Mercer one lane, then it becomes even harder to get out of the city. This leads to a lot more traffic just about everywhere. If you make westbound Mercer one lane, then drivers use Denny more, and go back and forth (on streets like Fairview) again making overall traffic a mess. I’m not just talking about cars and trucks, but buses as well.

        In this case, I don’t see that as a big problem. You are reducing the flow of cars into the U-District, which is a good thing. You send cars from 45th to 50th, which is OK, since no buses run there. Overall, it seems like things would work out better for everyone, and that doesn’t include the significant improvement in bus speed and the switching in trips that occur as a result. If traffic is really bad, and the bus is really fast and frequent, then lots of people would just take the bus. This is certainly the case downtown, I don’t see why the U-District would be any different.

        I get it. Taking lanes is very difficult. It is much easier to take parking. But one of the proposals involves taking a lane in the Ballard. I don’t see why we can’t take a lane from Sand Point to Wallingford, or at the very least from 15th to past the freeway.

      12. By the way, Tom, thanks for espousing the absolute worst characteristic of so called transit fans. You have opposed Ballard to UW rail on numerous occasions, saying that we should build BRT instead. But then when even the slightest hint of BRT is mentioned (bus lanes, for only part of the route) you say that we “cannot” have it.

    2. Wait, I got that confused. SDOT’s proposal is to put both eastbound and westbound on the Link sides of the block. The problem with the stop across 45th is only if we undo the 43rd Street detour.

      I do worry about adding more turns to the route slowing it down.

  13. Off topic but this reminds me:

    What do you all think of a restructure after new Link stations open to create another E-W line parallel to the north of the 44. Basically combine the tail ends of the 45 and the 62, so there’s a line from Golden Gardens down 85th, then curve down around Green Lake and turn intoonto 65th, then out to Sand Point.

    It would hit a ton of transfers and further the grid structure.

    1. The only problem is that there aren’t many destinations east of 15th NE. That said, I believe that Metro is planning exactly this.

    2. This is a route that I think is a good idea in principle, but I think the reality is that ridership between the eastern and western halves would be too weak to justify it in the short term. Plus even after Northgate Link opens, we’ll still need some N/S bus service in the U-District, and the 45 provides that.

      I think that splitting the 62 into an N/S route that terminates at Roosevelt Station, and a E/W route that continues along 45th to Market Street (basically the western half of the 44) could make some sense, given enough service hours.

      If it’s 2040 and the city has legalized multifamily housing city-wide, with duplexes, tris, quads, and larger apartment buildings sprouting up from Crown Hill to Sandpoint, and the Green New Deal has funded extending Ballard Link north to 85th, and perhaps an Aurora Avenue Link line, then maybe joining the west half of the 45 to the east half of the 62 will result in a line with solid ridership all the way through.

    3. That bas been discussed off and on for years. That’s what San Francisco and Vancouver would do with their Fillmore, Divisadero, and Commercial Drive, and Bboadway etc routes.But Seattle has different trip patterns because of land use and topographical barriers. SF and Vancouver have more mixed-use and townhouse/lowrise density throughout, so there are always more people going to destinations all along those routes. Seattle has small islands of commercial and mixed-use surrounded by a sea of low-density houses, so trips are heavily oriented toward those islands. People don’t want a route going to the middle of nowhere or transferring in the middle of nowhere. They want a route that goes to the U-District. Or Northgate or Ballard or Fremont or Lake City, and damn the grid.

      This causes problems for straightening out the 45 and 62, and also the 44 and 71 and former 72. The 45 is widely seen as a grid-incorrect route that should be straightened. But if you look at it more closely, it’s actually a diagonal northwest-southeast route, and the dominant trip patterns are between Grennwood, Greenlake, and the U-District. The trips between Greenwood, Ravenna, and Magnuson Park are a tiny fraction of it. And while people from Magnolia and Greenlake will gladly transfer to Link at Roosveelt rather than slogging through if they’re going to campus or near U-District Station or to the rest of the region, there are also many people going to 55th, 50th, 40th, etc, where transferring at Roosevelt is not as advantageous — and these again are more numerous than those going to Ravenna or Sand Point. In general, taking Link two or more stations is a big advantage, while taking Link one station is six-and-one-half-to-the-dozen and often less convenient than just staying on the bus or transferring to a bus that will get you closer to your destination. I live halfway between two Link stations, so taking the 49 between the University Library and Capitol Hill library, or 43rd to Pine/Bellevue, in this pre-Northate Link era, is often more desirable than a several-block walk/shuttle on both ends of the Link trip, especially in the evening when the streets aren’t congested. That’s the situation Greenwood will be in in the Northgate Link era.

      1. Seattle has small islands of commercial and mixed-use surrounded by a sea of low-density houses, so trips are heavily oriented toward those islands. People don’t want a route going to the middle of nowhere or transferring in the middle of nowhere. They want a route that goes to the U-District. Or Northgate or Ballard or Fremont or Lake City, and damn the grid.

        Yeah, but that sort of approach leads to a second rate system. It is pretty easy to see why. Lake City is more popular than Wedgwood. Northgate has more business than Lake City. UW is clearly a more popular destination than Northgate, while downtown Seattle dwarfs the UW. Pretty soon, you have a system that looks remarkably like what we’ve always had — a hub and spoke system, with downtown Seattle at its core. Add in a few extra routes to the UW, and call it a day.

        The problem is, people only use it for those trips. The old adage used to be “Metro is pretty good, if you are headed downtown”. I’ve heard literally dozens of people say that, independently. Some grew up here, some came from out of town. It was a pretty good summary of things. As a result, the default mode of transport is car. No matter how “woke” you are, it is assumed that unless you are headed downtown (or maybe the UW) you are driving.

        Here is an example: I was drinking at a bar, talking to a woman who lived nearby (in Lake City). She said she tended bar someplace on Aurora, fairly close to Bitter Lake. I said, basically “that’s a pretty good commute”, and she said “well, it isn’t too bad, I take the 75 or 41 to Northgate, then I take the 40 …”. By then it hit me. Me — of all people — a man who obsesses way too much about transit issues — just assumed she drove. Half way through explaining her absolutely miserable transit commute, I realized what an idiot I was. It also occurred to me that as soon as this woman makes enough money in tips, she is buying a car.

        It shouldn’t be that way. Of course there are some destinations that are more popular than others. The grid bends accordingly. But a city like Vancouver — which also has major attractions, and acres of single family homes just like us — manages to build a really good grid with very high transit usage ( There is no reason why we can’t.

        The problem isn’t that we favor the high density islands, it is that we don’t even connect them. No one is suggesting we run a bus on 80th and 75th, like so:, or run a bus on 95th NE, between Sand Point and Lake City Way. That is years and years away, and it assumes more growth or money than we have. What Mark (and David Lawson) suggested was simply sending the 45 east, to Sand Point.

        That idea has merits and is quite reasonable. But the biggest weakness is not the relative weakness of the Sand Point tail, but the limits of our geography (as mentioned). We will never have a grid as good as that of Vancouver. We have geographic and land use limitations that are more problematic. But whenever possible, we should be more grid like. Make crosstown routes, even if they look somewhat redundant (Greenwood to Northgate) or less than stellar (Bitter Lake to Lake City). Avoid big detours or button hooks. The key is to build a real network, so you can get just about anywhere to just about anywhere in a reasonable amount of time.

    4. There [would be] a line from Golden Gardens down 85th, then curve down around Green Lake and turn into onto 65th, then out to Sand Point.

      It would hit a ton of transfers and further the grid structure.

      David suggested that in his proposal years ago: There is merit for it. The problem has been alluded to — a disconnect between high ridership to the west (Greenwood, Crown Hill, Roosevelt) and low ridership to the east (Roosevelt, Sand Point). I don’t think this is a huge problem, personally. I think the bigger issue is that it doesn’t get you that much over the current setup.

      The combination of the 62 and 45 is pretty much a grid, while giving folks from Greenwood a one seat ride to the UW. It is very hard to build a real grid for the city, because of all the waterways. For example, David’s proposal means a three seat ride from Greenwood to Eastlake, while it is a two seat ride right now. Likewise from Greenwood to north Capitol Hill or the Central Area. You could extend some of those buses up to 65th, but I think extending the 45 south instead is probably better. You really don’t lose much with the current setup, even though it isn’t a real grid. The three seat rides are all “between” places. On the 67, between 65th and Northgate Way, along with the 372, 65 and 75 between 65th and Lake City. That is it for three seat rides, and even then, those could be two seat rides (albeit with big detours). Even if the bus went across on 65th, those trips wouldn’t be great. If you drove, you would go like this ( but the bus, at its best, would be a two seat ride doing this: (and involving a transfer). For a trip like that, the current network is clearly worse, but making that change would not be big enough to get many new riders, or even save them that much time.

      The better idea (which Metro suggested a while back) is basically this: This provides a grid as well, just a northern one. Greenwood/Crown Hill get a one seat ride to Northgate and Lake City. The combination of service on 85th means that someone who is trying to get from there to Link just takes the first bus that arrives (that one, or the 45). That means that if you are headed to the UW, just miss the 45 but see the bus to Northgate coming, you take it, and get to your destination fairly quickly. From a grid standpoint, it is just about as good as heading down to 65th ( It is still well out of your way, but so is going down to 65th when you started at 85th. More than anything, that adds a lot more, and trips of that nature are rare.

    5. “People don’t want a route going to the middle of nowhere or transferring in the middle of nowhere. They want a route that goes to the U-District…. This causes problems for straightening out the 45 and 62, and also the 44 and 71 and former 72.”

      More examples. Grid fans would also like an all-15th route from UW Station to Mountlake Terrace (73+347). This would be clean but it misses Greenlake, Northgate, and the Crest Cinema area and offers no comparable destinations. So people going to those activity centers have to transfer or take other routes, and only those who live near 15th benefit from it. So it would have less ridership and benefit than routes that do go to those activity centers (and future Link stations). I’d still like a 15th route, but it has intrinsic weaknesses.

      1. Grid fans would also like an all-15th route from UW Station to Mountlake Terrace (73+347).

        There are a few problems with that. First, there is a big disconnect between what lies north of the city (347) and south (73). There is very little to the north — not that many people and not that many destinations.

        Another problem is that it ignores Link. Longer trips (Mountlake Terrace to the UW) are bound to be better with a transfer to Link, while shorter trips (Pinehurst to Roosevelt) are not. Once Lynnwood Link gets here, a one-seat ride from just about anywhere in Mountlake Terrace to the UW will seem silly. In contrast, there will be plenty of people from, say, Maple Leaf, headed to the UW who prefer the bus, rather than the bus and train. If folks from Maple Leaf won’t want to transfer, than it is quite likely that folks from Pinehurst won’t want to detour and transfer either. The problem is, they may do so anyway, because the 73 is so infrequent. Which brings up another problem.

        15th itself is bad. Ridership suffers because there aren’t enough riders along there, which in turn, lead to weak frequency. As I wrote up above, it is quite reasonable for the grid to bend a little. The “almost perfect” grid certainly does. It makes way more sense to go on Roosevelt between 65th and Northgate Way, which means cutting over on Pinehurst Way ( The time penalty is minimal. That means that it would cut through the heart of Maple Leaf, Roosevelt (and its new station), along with the U-District. That means a lot more riders. Until Lynnwood Link gets here, it would likely layover at 145th (where the 73 lays over). That is not a great anchor, but good enough. When Lynnwood Link gets here, that would end at 145th Station (an outstanding anchor).

        Folks from farther north would get a ride to the nearest train station, and get a one seat ride to a northern destination (Northgate, Northwest Hospital, North Seattle College, etc.). Something like this , along with east-west type routes to Aurora Village (and a Link station). You could get decent frequency with those buses (20 minutes, maybe better) while the more frequent buses run in the city.

      2. What I was trying to convey is that people who live on the route would think it’s a bum route that doesn’t go anywhere, and how unlucky they are to have this as their closest route when other neighborhoods have routes to real destinations. The 15th route would finally reach the U-District after plodding for half an hour or more, and would miss all the destions in between. A 45+62 route would be better but it’s still not excellent, while the current 45 is very successful and popular. So I’m hesitant to break it for a theoretical grid.

      3. Yeah, but Roosevelt — with its Link Station — is not “nowhere”.

        Of course we should be hesitant to change it — I wouldn’t for reasons mentioned. But I caution anyone from spending too much time thinking that, say, Northgate is a much better than Roosevelt, and we should bend the system a lot to serve it. The geography of Seattle is very challenging, making a simple grid impossible. But as much as possible, we should err towards making a grid, even an imperfect one.

      4. Thinking about this some more, on a general level. There are several advantage to a grid. It enables very straightforward (i. e. fast) trips from anywhere to anywhere. The buses run fairly efficiently, which means that they can run more often. This combination means that lots of trips may involve a transfer, but the wait time is so small, it doesn’t matter.

        But this is only true for areas with lots of (transit) trips. That is why it is rare to see a grid system in a low density suburb or city, especially if they have a strong central downtown. It is also why it wouldn’t make sense to build a grid in areas like Shoreline. The buses wouldn’t be frequent enough. Shoreline is much better off with feeder buses to more frequent transit.

        But in Seattle proper, we have long since past the point where a grid makes sense. There are trade-offs, and they often come down to connectivity versus a direct connection to a destination. Here is a good example:

        Eventually there will be a station at NE 130th, as well as NE 145th. Both of these places are, well, “nowhere”. They are largely connection points — nothing more. Metro’s long range plan* calls for extending the 65 to the 145th street Link station, and beyond, to Shoreline Community College. This sounds great to me, which is why I put it on my proposed map for after Lynnwood Link**. Metro also runs a bus from Lake City to Bitter Lake, along 130th. This part is obvious, as I would do the same thing. But to the west, they again send it up to Shoreline Community College. There is value in that — SCC is probably the biggest destination in the area. But consider what I do instead. I run a bus to the QFC by Holman road, the northern terminus of the D. Their focus is on the destination, while mine is connections. With my routing, you can get from Lake City, Pinehurst or Bitter Lake to pretty much anywhere in the city in a fast, straightforward manner. With their approach, getting anywhere north of the ship canal and west of Greenwood would be significantly slower. That is a huge number of trips that are made more difficult. It is not that the northern routing (to SCC) wouldn’t have any connections — it would. It is just that the southern routing would have a lot more.

        These are trade-offs, but to me, going south — even to “nowhere” — is much better.


  14. Now how about the 2, which in reality takes 40 minutes in the morning/evening to go the 2.5 mi from Central District to Belltown when walking takes 45 minutes, and that is if you get lucky and the first bus has room. It is typically on-time until it waits through multiple light cycles at 23/Union, where it is more deserving of the right lane than the parked cars that actually get to use the right lane. And the rest of the route is the same until it finally can move when it turns north on 1st.

    With an additional 555 apartment units going in at midtown center, something needs to be done.

    1. The 2 will move to Pine-12th-Union when RapidRide G opens, to replace the 11 and 49. That will avoid its major slowdowns on Spring/Seneca which take half an hour on their own, although it won’t help with 23rd. And it will pretty certainly be split and no longer go to Belltown, because the eastern half is higher ridership than the western half. That causes an imbalance tension with the eastern half needing more frequency. Queen Anne service will probably be mostly a more-frequent 4 and 13. Metro’s 2025 plan suggests a coverage route from the 2’s Queen Anne tail to Mercer-5th-Harrison, the Lakeview Blvd bridge, and east on Belmont/Aloha to 23rd and Garfield HS, to create a new east-west corridor between Queen Anne and northern Capitol Hill.

    2. By “from the 2’s Queen Anne tail” I mean converting the Queen Anne part of the 2 to this.

  15. How many people are goinf to take the bus ti UVillage? Sone, to be sure, but not many.

    So far as those who live between UVilkage and Children’s. — a goid population to be sure — how many want to go to Ballard ir Wallingford?

    Yes, reroute the 75 to UDistrict Station and maybe farther west ad ab overlay, but don’t take the two-seat ride between inner Northwest Seattle and UWMC to a three-seater.

    1. My experience riding the 65 and the 372 is that there’s a good number of on/offs at the U-Village stops. If the 44 continued along NE 45th St, a U Village stop could see decent use. OTOH, my impression is that a lot of bus riders using the bus to shop at U Village either live in the dorms or in less dense areas- people using the 44 could have better shopping options already and might uninclined to head to the U Village.

  16. Another factor is UW’s attitude. It has made noises about wanting to eliminate or reduce the number of buses on lower Stevens Way. Metro for a time was considering rerouting them to upper Stevens Way (so they’d turn right from Pend Orielle Road instead of left), and out via a new road on 43rd directly to the station. That was precluded by a new building in the space and the expansion of the Burke Museum. I don’t know how much the university still wants to eliminate buses from lower Stevens Way, but that may be why 45th has gotten more official interest recently.

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